When I first heard about David Bowie’s recent passing, I didn’t think of his role in “Labyrinth,” his contributions to the LGBTQIA movement or his popular songs “Ziggy Stardust” and “Space Oddity.” To be frank, when my coworker mentioned “Space Oddity” to me, I thought it was the name of a film he had done. So, I’m clearly not the leading expert on Bowie.
Instead, these were the two things I thought of:
1. His song “Fame” that played during the club scene in the 1995 serial killer movie “Copycat.”
2. The iconic tunnel scene in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” that featured his song “Heroes.”
The former is just another example of my strange movie and music retention, but the latter is actually something more. While Bowie was both an actor and a musician, only his iconic voice was featured in “Perks.” To me, it was the most important part of the movie because it changed something inside of me for the better.
For those of you who haven’t seen the 2012 coming-of-age story based on Stephen Chbosky’s book of the same name, it follows introvert Charlie’s (Logan Lerman) freshman year of high school as he meets two seniors who help him come out of his shell. The story is beautifully told and the acting is superb, but that’s not what draws me to this movie. No, I’m specifically drawn to the tunnel scene, occurring toward the beginning of the film.
After leaving a party, Charlie hitches a ride with his new friends Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller). While driving, Bowie’s song “Heroes” begins playing on the radio and the three teens admit they’ve never heard the song before. Excitedly, Sam begs Patrick to drive through the tunnel because “it’s the perfect song.” Despite the cold, Sam stands on the back of the moving pickup with her arms stretched out like Jack and Rose did “Titanic,” the song now blasting. Charlie turns to stare in awe at Sam’s confidence, beauty and overall sense of blissfulness. And that’s when he says the movie’s most memorable line:
“I feel infinite.”
The scene gives me chills every time I watch it, now so more than ever. Bowie’s song couldn’t have been more perfect. The lyric “Oh we can be heroes, just for one day” really spoke to me in conjunction with that scene. Sure, I’d heard the song before, but I never really listened to it until then.
It taught me to live in the moment and enjoy every little thing around you, because it could all be gone the next day. As a kid in college in 2012, I never stopped looking toward “the future,” this scary, convoluted concept that kept me up at night, worrying endlessly about what job I was going to get, where I was going to live, who I’d be spending the rest of my life with, etc. Time and time again, I refused to just live in the moment — I come from a family of planners, and planning out my future made me feel more in control of it.
Except, you can’t really plan out something as fickle as “the future,” can you? It’s gonna do what it wants to do, and you just need to stand back and let it run its course. In 2012, I was living in Texas and had zero desire to move to New York. I wanted to be a screenwriter in LA and that was it. And in retrospect, I’m sure I missed out on some fun events happening at the time, because I was too busy planning for the future.
The combination of Bowie’s mesmerizing song and the “Perks” tunnel scene opened my eyes to the unnecessary stress I was adding to my life. Honestly, I felt liberated after watching that scene.
I remember a few months after first seeing the movie, I was driving my friends around on a Friday night. I don’t even remember where we were going or what we were doing, but I do remember hearing their laughter and thinking to myself, “I feel infinite right now.” That probably sounds corny (because it felt corny typing it) but it was the God’s honest truth. I felt alive and happy, all because I was enjoying what was happening in my life right that second. Such a simple concept, but one most people tend to overlook.
This is how I’ve chosen to life my life since then. Of course, in the midst of a joyful, infinite moment, there’s always the possibility my world can come crashing down the next day. But thanks to Bowie, at least I can feel free, “just for one day.”